Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Marketing goes mad. Meet the Game of Thrones whisky collection

Game of Thrones is an immensely popular fantasy television series. It is not something I have ever watched, or have any interest in watching, but its audience reach obviously makes it a hot branding property. 

Hence, to celebrate the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones, spirits house Diageo and HBO have combined to release the limited-edition Game of Thrones Single Malt Scotch Whisky Collection in Australia.

The Collection features seven Scotch whiskies paired with six of the iconic Houses of Westeros, as well as the Night’s Watch, giving fans an authentic taste of the Seven Kingdoms.

I have absolutely no idea what that means, but some of you might.

The Game of Thrones Single Malt Scotch Whisky Collection is joined by the return of White Walker by Johnnie Walker, another limited-edition whisky in celebration of series, inspired by "the most enigmatic and feared characters" on Game of Thrones; the White Walkers.

Diageo says its unparalleled and diverse range of distilleries in Scotland, much like in Westeros, each have their own unique characteristics and produce a distinctive whisky representative of local terroir. 

These similarities (so the press release says) were the inspiration behind the collection, drawing an "authentic storyline" between each House and single malt pairing. 

“We are always trying to find fun and interesting ways to introduce our Scotch portfolio and what better way than partnering with Game of Thrones, one of the most successful TV series ever created," says Pedro Mendonca, who goes by the impressive title of Global Reserve Marketing & Malts Director

"We are thrilled to be celebrating the final season of the show by toasting with whiskies that authentically pay homage to some of the greatest characters and houses.” 

For more information visit www.malts.com 

Sorry. Your flight is delayed; the pilot is pie-eyed

Passengers on a recent Air Japan flight were delayed after the pilot failed a pre-flight breathalyser test.

The co-pilot, in his 40s, admitted he had consumed more than 10 cans of beer, two glasses of white wine and a bottle of red wine, although the drinking had ceased before the prescribed 12 hours before a flight under the rules of parent company ANA.

He was due to fly from Tokyo's Haneda airport to Hong Kong but was replaced. His punishment was not revealed.

After a spate of recent incidents of failed breath tests, Japan's ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism had warned airlines to tighten up rules and administer more stringent alcohol tests to pilots, the Travel Mole news website reported.
Several over-the-limit pilots have caused flight delays and damaged Japan's aviation image that included one pilot being jailed in the UK for being nine times over the alcohol limit.

That pilot, Katsutoshi Jitsukawa, 42, failed a breathalyser 50 minutes before he was due to fly a Boeing 777 from Heathrow Airport to Japan Airlines (JAL). He was jailed for 10 months.

Another Air Japan pilot failed a breath test in February prior to a flight from Narita International Airport to Yangon, Myanmar.

"We were not able to prevent a similar incident from occurring and we take it very seriously," ANA said in a statement.

Not reassuring. 

Sunday, 17 March 2019

Imagine flying from Sydney to London for the weekend

Flying from Sydney to London in four hours may sound the stuff of science fiction, but one British tech company believes it may soon be a reality.

The makers of a new hypersonic rocket engine say it could whisk flights from London to Sydney in just a fifth of the time it takes now; travelling at five times the speed of sound.

Such a flight would revolutionise global travel.

The BBC quotes Reaction Engines as saying it is gearing up to test the futuristic craft in Colorado.

The company, which has backing from the Rolls-Royce and Boeing, calls the new rocket engine the Sabre. It inhales air at lower altitudes but works more like a rocket when it gets higher up.

There are several press releases about the project - and dozens of news stories that are far too complex for my little brain to understand. Go to www.reactionengines.co.uk to learn more about the Sabre.

Has Australia fallen out of love with Champagne?

Is Australia's decade-long love affair with Champagne cooling off? 

After volume growth of 134% over the past decade, Australian sales of Champagne fell last year by 1.8% to 8.4 million bottles, according to figures revealed at the annual press conference of the Comité Champagne, which took place at ProWein in Düsseldorf, Germany.

But much of the reduction can be put down, in part, to a less favourable exchange rate. 

Globally, Champagne volumes were also down last year (-1.8% to 301.9 million bottles), with France and the UK, which account for 60% of total sales, responsible for most of the decline. 

Overall exports are on an upward trajectory (+0.6% in volume and +1.8% in revenue) and despite total volume falling, last year’s total turnover for Champagne set a new record of close to €4.9 billion (+0.3% compared with 2017).

Demand is most dynamic beyond the European Union, particularly in markets further afield such as the USA, Japan, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. 

The Comité, the trade body that represents the interests of Champagne producers, said the 2018 results validated the value-creation strategy of the Champagne region “based on a continual pursuit of exceptional quality and rigorous environmental targets.”

With Australian Champagne sales down 6.4% in value, Comité co-president Jean-Marie Barillère told The Shout  industry newsletter he has not confident that 2019 would see a return to the incredible growth of recent years.

“I don’t know because the increase in volume of Champagne in Australia has been tremendous over the last 10 years,” he told The Shout. “Now maybe we’ll have some consolidation. But when you consider the population of Australia, we’re not doing too badly.”

Australia remains Champagne’s sixth-largest export market by volume.

Kyoto calls to sports fans

Late least year I had the good fortune to spend some time in Kyoto, the ancient capital and cultural heart of Japan. 

My time in the City of Shrines was fleeting, but I was hugely impressed with the vibrancy of the city and way both new and old had combined. 

The Rugby World Cup 2019 will be held in Japan for the first time and while no matches are planned in Kyoto, the city is still a must-visit, luring travellers with a deep-rooted history and connection with rugby.

Several World Cup games will be played in Kobe City, just a short train ride away. 
First introduced by an English educator, Edward Bramwell Clarke, who taught the game to students of Keio University in Tokyo in 1899, rugby quickly gained popularity and, in 1969, the commemorative stone monument, Dai-isshuu-no-chi(“The location of the First Kick”) was donated to Kyoto's Shimogamo-jinja Shrine near the Tadasu-no-mori Forest, where the Kyoto rugby team used to practice. 

Since then, the shrine has become a place of worship associated with rugby.
Kyoto's connection with the sport on the international scene was further deepened when it played host to the Rugby World Cup 2019 pool draw in May 2017. This was the first time a pool draw for the Rugby World Cup took place outside of the UK and Ireland.

Other sporting highlights in Kyoto include:the wooden Budo Center (above), which is the historical home for judo, kendo (Japanese fencing), karate, sumo, kyudo (Japanese archery) and naginata (long-handled sword). 

Originally called Butoku-den, and established in 1899, the oldest martial arts building in Japan, the Budo Center is not only used for competitions but also as a daily sports training site by Kyoto citizens.

Kyoto also hosts an annual international marathon and is home to a J2 League team, the magnificently named Kyoto Purple Sanga.  
For more information, visit https://kyoto.travel/en

Qantas flies direct between Sydney and Osaka Kansai three times a week with economy return fares starting from $1156 per person. www.qantas.com.au. Kyoto is a short train ride from Kansai Osaka Airport.

The writer was a guest of Kansai Gastronomy Tourism Promotion Council and associated companies, including Keihan Holdings and JR West. Pick up the Osaka-Kansai Gourmet Food Map when you arrive for some helpful regional itineraries. www.kansaibishoku.net/en

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Solo seniors get an adventurous travel opportunity

Over 50s are being invited to travel and meet some new friends.

Individual Traveller has announced an exclusive Sri Lanka Solo Tour for men and women 55+ inviting participants to ‘"travel where you’ve never been with friends you’ve never met!".

The fully-escorted 12-night/13-day tour for 50s and over will showcase Sri Lanka and visit Colombo, Sigiriya, Kandy and Galle from September 9-21.

As with all Individual Traveller-operated itineraries, the Sri Lankan tour will focus on providing solo travellers with the opportunity to share their holiday experience with like-minded people in a safe and welcoming environment.

Individual Traveller was created for people who travel on their own for whatever reason.

This particular tour costs $9799 per person including 12 nights in a double room for single use in 4-star quality hotels, breakfast daily, three dinners, English-speaking guides throughout, transfers, all entrance fees, an open hotel bar each night from 5.30-6.30pm each evening to mingle with other travellers, porterage and 24-hour assistance.

I particularly commend the porterage (older folk often have back issues and don't want to be lugging heavy suitcases around), and the news that guests will be in their hotel by 5.30pm each night.

Too many tours of this style aim to pack too much in, leaving guests tired and irritable when they should be relaxing.

SriLankan Airlines is currently offering return airfares from Melbourne to Sri Lanka from $982 in economy class and $3580 in business class (including taxes).

Individual Traveller managing director and creator Liz Young has welcomed Sri Lanka to the product range, saying: “We’ve had a lot of interest from our clients about Sri Lanka and we’re very proud of this particular tour.

“Not only will people get to see the magic of this wonderful country in style but they’ll be able to share their experience with others. The response we’ve had to our other solo tours has been enormous and Sri Lanka is just as popular,” Young said.

Brown Brothers releases latest tribute to family matriarch

The flagship Patricia range from Brown Brothers pays tribute to the late family matriarch who died in 2004 - and the 16th release will hit the market on Sunday, March 17.

There are four new wines in the release, the Patricia Pinot Noir Chardonnay Brut ($48), the Patricia 2017 Chardonnay ($45), the Patricia 2015 Shiraz ($62) and Patricia 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon ($62). 

The Patricia 2014 Noble Riesling ($37) was released last year and completes the quintet. 

The chardonnay reflects the family-owned company's gradual migration from its Victorian roots to cooler Tasmania, with a blend of fruit from the Tamar Valley and East Coast of the Apple Isle alongside Yarra Valley fruit. 

"Patricia's commitment to her family and the business was nothing but inspirational and the Patricia range is an expression of our commitment to winemaking excellence," says her grand-daughter Caroline Brown. 

"The Patricia range is the result of the very best work carried out by our viticulture and winemaking team with the best parcels from the best sites carefully selected."

Why March 17? It was the family matriarch's birthday.